Right-wing media spread conspiracy theories about Arizona election officials Stephen Richer and Gabriella Cázares-Kelly

Conservatives are baselessly accusing the Maricopa County Recorder Steven Richer and Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly of fraud and malfeasance

Right-wing media outlets and activists are spreading conspiracy theories targeting Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, baselessly accusing him of deliberately sabotaging voting machines in an attempt to suppress Republican voters. Right-wing figures are also accusing Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly of slow-walking vote counts to demoralize conservatives or otherwise stifle their votes.

Richer, a Republican, apologized for delays and machine malfunctions that occurred on Election Day, but stressed that in general, his office is responsible for voter registration and early voting, not for operations on the day itself. Already by Tuesday morning, conservatives had manufactured conspiracy theories about the machine glitches in Maricopa County, alleging that the back-up system wasn’t trustworthy and that Republicans were being specifically disenfranchised. (A judge didn’t agree.)

Since Tuesday, conservative media have targeted Richer with a barrage of baseless claims. As the results were coming in that evening, former Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon called out Richer by name, accusing him without evidence of targeting Republican voters.

"What happened in Arizona was clearly to suppress the gameday vote,” Bannon said. “They knew that’s where Kari Lake won the primary, they knew exactly the gameplan she was running here.”

“They went out and suppressed this vote, there’s no doubt about it,” he continued.

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Citation From Real America's Voice's election night livestream, aired on November 8, 2022

The attacks extend far beyond Bannon though. Here are some of the most egregious examples.

  • Turning Point Action’s Tyler Bowyer tweeted that Richer was “more than complicit” in the delays and that “citizens should be upset!”  
  • Chair of the Arizona Republicans Kelli Ward – who appeared on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast to discuss the issue Tuesday morning –  accused Richer of “lies” that “created doubt in our elections.” Ward also asked whether the malfunctions were “incompetence or malfeasance” from Richer, “or both?”
  • Conspiracy junksite The Gateway Pundit covered Ward’s War Room appearance, writing, “This was on purpose!” and saying of Richer, “The man has to go!” 
  • Arizona Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem, an oathkeeper, election denier, and Bannon disciple, implied on Twitter that Richer was hiding vote totals. He later responded to an official statement from Maricopa County that Richer posted by tweeting “Stop talking and start counting” 
  • The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway tweeted that many of Richer’s “former supporters have grown to disdain him.” She also reposted a hit piece she had written on Richer in October.
  • The Federalist’s CEO and co-founder Sean Davis wrote on Truth Social that “deranged NeverTrumper Stephen Richer” was “to blame for the insane voting shenanigans,” adding “None of what’s happening is an accident.”
  • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk claimed that Richer “lied” to him and other conservatives about Maricopa’s Election Day readiness. He also referred to the machine malfunctions as “manufactured chaos”  
  • Rape apologist and right-wing social media personality Mike Cernovich responded to a tweet of Richer’s asking, “Are you doing your real role, which is nefarious?”

By Thursday afternoon, right-wing media personalities also began attacking Cázares-Kelly.

  • Trump lawyer Harmeet Dhillon tweeted that the “Pima Recorder is even more political and less cooperative than Maricopa” and accused Cázares-Kelly and Richer of “slow-walking results, hoping to outlast our legal and other observers”
  • War Room regular Steve Cortes also accused Pima County of being “super slow and non-transparent regarding ongoing ballot counting.” He further suggested that because Cázares-Kelly listed her pronouns and wrote “dismantling white supremacy” in her Twitter bio that “her radical ideology” played “just a teeny role in this process”
  • Right-wing Twitter account @graduatedben also referenced Cázares-Kelly’s pronouns, adding she “is currently sitting on a sizable amount of uncounted votes” and is an “Obvious partisan”